By Representative Polis
NOTE: On Sunday, the Denver Post published an opinion piece by a conservative author that contains serious factual inaccuracies about Congressman Polis. The Denver Post published this item before offering Congressman Polis an opportunity to address these false claims. The Post made no attempt to verify these claims. Only after publishing did the Post offer a chance to respond but that response will not be allowed to appear until Tuesday, January 24. That response from appears below.
In the Sunday's Denver Post, a conservative commentator and advisor to Sarah Palin made a series of baseless charges about my finances and conduct in Congress. This person has made a lucrative cottage industry of hurling various charges at elected officials, including John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and John Kerry. Gadflies have been around forever, but they usually don't get featured in major American newspapers.
In short, this article makes numerous false claims about my personal investments. The fact is that I have not purchased stock in any publicly-traded company since entering Congress. His assertions are blatantly and verifiably false. Additionally, when I was first elected in 2008, I decided to set up a blind trust to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, a step few members take and that is not required. But I believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard, which is why I've also cosponsored the STOCK Act, which would make it illegal for members of Congress, or their staff, to trade stock based on non-public information.
Regrettably, facts offer no defense against propagandists. This person also falsely claimed that the blind trust I set up is all a farce controlled by a personal friend, Solomon Halpern. Solomon Halpern has never controlled the investments made by my blind trust. That work is done by a Texas firm called Kanaly Trust, which was selected for its experience handling blind trusts for Bush administration officials. As is required by law, I have had no contact with Kanaly Trust since the trust was established. But in the age of what Steven Colbert calls "truthiness," baseless attacks are what we've come to expect in political discourse.
When finished inventing evidence, the writer recycled baseless charges familiar to observers of local politics. He claims that I "made two large purchases of company stock" in a firm called Bridgehealth that supposedly would benefit from the health care bill then being considered by the House Education and Labor Committee, of which I was a member. Hardly.
I co-founded Bridgehealth in 2007 (well before my election) to provide more affordable health care options. I've heard too many horror stories of Coloradans who can't afford proper care. I have loaned this business money virtually every quarter since its founding in order to sustain its operations and to avoid layoffs. I am not otherwise involved in this company as either an employee or board member. And contrary to the assertion that I was "shepherding" this bill through, I was one of only three Democrats on the Committee to vote against it (as the Denver Post reported.)
Similarly, it is claimed that I made other investments that benefited from the bill. This is also wholly false. To reiterate, I have not purchased any publicly traded stock since entering office. Two weeks after I voted against the bill a series of exchange traded funds, or ETFs, which are similar to mutual funds, were purchased to diversify my personal holdings (those outside of the blind trust that support my personal expenses and home). One of these was in the health care sector. It represents less than 1 percent of my overall diversified portfolio. Using the author's logic, anyone who purchased a mutual fund or invested in their 401(k) would be disqualified from public office.
I am proud of my record in Congress and I welcome and enjoy the chance to debate the issues. But we all bear a responsibility to the truth. The quality of debate should be equal to the greatness of our country. When a political operative who has coauthored books with the likes of Glenn Beck chooses to spread untruths and to purposely mislead the public just to make a few dollars, it harms our democracy. I hope that the Denver Post will endeavor to further correct the record.